SHOPPING BAGS have disappeared from several supermarkets after a new shopping bag ban was introduced.
This spring, New Jersey enacted one of the toughest bans on plastic and paper grocery bags in the United States, barring shoppers from using them at major grocery stores.
Instead, customers can bring their own bags to the store or buy reusable bags at the checkout.
The New Jersey Food Council, a trade group that represents grocers in the state, said customers were “for the most part” prepared for the ban and had complied.
However, some supermarkets say shoppers are simply taking their hand baskets with them for storage.
“They just disappear,” Louis Scaduto Jr., CEO of Food Circus Super Markets, told NorthJersey.com. “I may just have to get rid of them soon, can’t afford to constantly replace them.”
A Stop & Shop representative told the outlet that its shopping bags were also missing, prompting the company to put up a sign at its Middletown store reminding customers that hand baskets must be in store at all times.
Retailers hope the signs will prevent customers from accidentally taking the baskets or save themselves the embarrassment of being caught stealing.
“Like other retailers across the state, we have seen the theft of our portable shopping baskets — an unintended consequence of the ban on plastic and paper bags,” the representative said.
“We hope that people who use our baskets will remember to leave them in store after they have finished shopping, so that the baskets remain a resource for all of our customers.”
Some customers heed the warnings, others didn’t.
“We are keenly aware of the random reports that grocers are experiencing the loss of these hand baskets to varying degrees,” Linda Doherty, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Food Council, said in a statement.
Doherty also called the thefts a “brief unintended consequence of the new state law.”
Other states are also feeling the pain of stolen shopping baskets.
Plastic bags were phased out in Delaware in August, leading to shopping baskets being stolen from grocers as well.
One Acme store reported that all of its baskets had been cleared out.
“It’s stupid, why would you steal the basket, they need them,” one buyer, Christine Young, told NBC New York.
“I think it’s stupid, people are lazy.”
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